×

iPhone brings cinematography to masses

Latest model improves image, sound, records in high-def

As studios continue the transition from film to digital, the indie filmmaking community is going through a metamorphosis of its own.

The introduction of video recording options on Digital SLR cameras opened a lot of doors for budding auteurs on a budget, but advances to the camera quality of the latest iPhone could bring a flood of new offerings from people who haven’t previously been able to afford quality video equipment.

Apple put a heavy emphasis on the iPhone 4S camera, adding high-def 1080p recording capabilities (the iPhone 4 had 720p), updating the maximum aperture and improving the auto-white balance, while also offering image stabilization and temporal noise reduction. The result is a handheld video camera that shoots nearly as well as Canon’s EOS 5D Mark II at certain settings. And that’s already encouraging people to see what they can coax from the $200 device (not including two-year phone service contract).

“I foresee a lot more people experimenting with short film,” says Dmitry Kozko, CEO of OpenFilm, an online community for independent filmmakers whose advisory board includes actors James Caan, Robert Duvall and Scott Caan, along with director Mark Rydell. “I see it growing online, and I see a lot of festivals coming up that will cater to (the 4S), if only because of the ‘cool factor.’ ”

The 4S certainly holds a pricing advantage, but it’s handicapped in many ways when compared with DSLR recording devices. The aforementioned Canon camera performs much better in low-light situations. (The title sequence of “Saturday Night Live” is shot solely with a pair of Canon DSLRs, for instance.) And the iPhone is still incapable of shallow depth of field, due to its small sensors.

Still, that’s not stopping some filmmakers from testing out the 4S for shorts. Benjamin Dowie of South Australia’s Beanpole Prods. has shot an unnamed experimental short on the device, which has become a viral hit online.

Even before the improvements, the iPhone was becoming a tool of interest to filmmakers. South Korean director Park Chan-wook (“Oldboy”) shot the thriller “Paranmanjang” (Night Fishing) exclusively with an iPhone 4. The 30-minute movie later won the 2011 Golden Bear for short film in Berlin.

The cinematic potential of the iPhone has grown to the point where there’s a viable peripheral business geared to filmmakers. The Steadicam Smoothee has targeted iPhone shooters for the past two years, offering near professional level image stabilization. And the Owle Bubo incorporates a wide-angle and macro lens to enhance the phone’s default offerings.

More Digital

  • Fubo Sports Network

    FuboTV Launches Free, Ad-Supported Streaming Sports Network

    FuboTV, one of the players duking it out in the competitive internet pay-TV arena, is dropping into the free streaming-video market with a network it wants to distribute as widely as possible — off its own platform. On Thursday, the company is soft-launching the Fubo Sports Network: a live, free-to-consumer TV network for U.S. sports [...]

  • BTS World

    BTS World Mobile Game From K-Pop Group Rockets to No. 1 Spot on App Charts Worldwide

    BTS, the biggest K-pop group in the world, now has the biggest app in the world. “BTS World,” a mobile simulation game that lets fans virtually become the South Korean pop stars’ manager, quickly rose to the top of Apple’s App Store charts in multiple countries just hours after its release on Wednesday, June 26. [...]

  • Discovery Names Andrew Georgiou Eurosport and

    Discovery Taps Andrew Georgiou as Eurosport and Sports Rights Boss

    Andrew Georgiou has been appointed president of Discovery-owned Eurosport. The sports channels and streaming service has been without a chief since Peter Hutton left for Facebook. Georgiou assumes a wider role than Hutton, running Eurosport as well as overseeing sports rights and marketing across Discovery. It has been moving aggressively into the sports sector, licensing [...]

  • Can a Studio Make Movies for

    Listen: Can a Studio Make Movies for VR?

    STX Entertainment is best known for movies like “The Upside” and “Ugly Dolls,” but it also has a division dedicated to creating virtual-reality movies like the recent action short “The Limit.” STXsurreal is working on over a dozen films in a variety of genres, according to its founders, Rick Rey (pictured, right) and Andy Vick. [...]

  • Kathryn Friedrich

    Condé Nast Entertainment Taps Ex-RYOT Studio Head Kathryn Friedrich for New Role

    Condé Nast Entertainment hired Kathryn Friedrich, a YouTube and Google alum who most recently headed Verizon’s RYOT Studio, to the newly created role of EVP, operations and general manager. Friedrich started in the new gig this week, reporting to Condé Nast Entertainment president Oren Katzeff, who joined the company last year from Tastemade. Based in [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content